Computer video card buying tips

With the popularity of computer gaming video cards are becoming the most commonly upgraded components in a computer. However, purchasing a computer video card can sometimes be a very confusing and frustrating task. Before purchasing a video card, keep the below recommendations in mind.

Connection

Today, there are three bus (slots) a video card is capable of connecting to. Although with most modern computers today it'll be either PCI-E or AGP. Before buying a new video card make sure you get a video card that will be compatible with the available slots in your computer.

PCI-E or PCI-Express was approved as a standard on July 2002 and is the latest computer bus found in computers. PCI Express is designed to replace PCI and AGP and is available in different formats: x1, x2, x4, x8, x12, x16, and x32. See the PCI Express definition for a full description and related links.

PCI express x16 slot

AGP or Advanced Graphics Port, is a new standard available on Pentium II and later motherboards. Introduced in 1997, AGP is a 32-bit Bus designed for high demanding video cards. AGP has a direct line to the computer memory, which allows 3-D elements to be stored in the system memory instead of the video memory and is available in three different standards (1.0, 2.0, and 3.0). See the AGP definition for a full description and related links.

AGP slot

PCI or Peripheral Component Interconnect, was first introduced in 1992. Although still in use today, most computers today use AGP or a PCI-E slot instead of PCI. See the PCI definition for a full description and related links.

PCI slot

Power supply

Today's video cards are one of the must power hungry devices in your computer. Make sure that your power supply meets the requirements of your video card. Many video cards will require a 500W or more power supply. If your computer doesn't meet the power requirements you'd need to upgrade the power supply before being able to install the new video card.

Memory

Another important consideration when purchasing a video card is the amount of video memory the card has. Like system memory, the more memory located on the computer video card in most cases the greater capability of the video card. Today, we suggest at the minimum a video card with 256MB of video memory.

Other considerations

Below are some additional considerations you may want to think about when buying a video card.

Ports - Many newer video cards only have a DVI connection or both a VGA and DVI connection. If you're using a video card with a monitor that has a VGA connector it can still be used, but you'll need to also purchase a DVI to VGA converter if not included with your video card.

Chipset - There are dozens of different video card manufacturers. However, there are only two major chipset manufacturers; Nvidia and ATI. Although both are great manufacturers there can be great big differences between the two as far as performance. Before buying any video card it's a good idea to look up a hardware review on the video card before purchasing it if you're concerned about it's performance.

Size - If you have a smaller computer case fitting some of the new video cards in the computer many not be possible. Video cards today are much larger than older video cards because of their increased capabilities and need for cooling fans. Make sure your case is going to have room for a new video card. The only way to do this is to open the case and physically look.

Warranty - How long is the warranty and what does it cover.

Support - Is the technical support number a free number and is it open 24 hours, 7 days a week? You can find contact information for all major video card manufacturers on our video card contacts page.

Price range

The price range can vary depending on the brand of video card, amount of memory, the interface used, and other available options. In general, prices can range from $100 to $1,000 USD.

Where to purchase

For best price we often recommend that users purchase all computer hardware online. You'll be able to look at other customer reviews and get a much lower price. If you're uncomfortable buying online or want to talk to a sales rep you can always visit a local retail store and then buy online.

Video card installation